Are Steadicam’s and Ronin’s the “new” Dolly?

Filmmakers have been using dolly shots since the invention of tracks. It gives the picture a little kick. Whether it’s dance floor or having a gnarly shot with long track, it’s something we perceive in our minds to typically be on film sets.

Sanjay Sami and Hybrid dolly in India 1_1

I like to work as a Dolly Grip, but have been finding it difficult to find shoots that specifically need a dolly grip on set. Instead, the more favored movement shots is Steadicam or Ronins.

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I can’t help but wonder why that is.

 

To break down the difference between the three:

Dolly Shot, “Travels along tracks. The camera is mounted on the dolly and records the shot as it moves. Dolly shots have a number of applications and can provide very dramatic footage.

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Steadicam, “Lightweight mounting for a movie camera that keeps it steady for filming when handheld or moving.”

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DJI Ronin Handheld Gimbal System, “Developed for the cinematographer with pro-grade build quality keeping up with the demands of everyday use and aerial film making in professional environments. Smooth and stable footage with the highest levels of precision”

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All together they produce smooth moving shots. But why are filmmakers throwing away the idea of a dolly? Normally dollies are not just bought, they’re rented. Perhaps renting the dolly more expensive than using a Steadicam or Ronin. Here’s a weekly rental rate for all three.

DJI Ronin Handheld Gimbal cost $319 for a 7 day rental (borrowlenses.com)

 

Stedicam Zephyr cost $1,200 for a 7 day rental (hdgear.tv)

 

Chapman Super PeeWee 2 is $2400 for a 7 day rental (redmanmovies.com)

Although Dolly Shots look phenomenal, it can become time consuming. With my experience and discussions with other operators laying down track, leveling, getting marks and practicing the shot with talent can take awhile. Especially when it comes to hills or anything with uneven terrain. Looking at these numbers its easy to see why filmmakers are using Steadicam’s and Ronin’s over Dollies. Looks like I’m going to learn different ways to achieve movement shots.

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